Key Matchups: Bengals vs. Saints

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VS.

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KEY MATCHUPS
NOVEMBER 19, 2006

All signs point to another shootout. A former NFL club football executive (The Guru) and a current personnel director on a team not in the Bengals division (The Chief) break down Sunday's game and give the edge to the Saints because of home field and questions about the Bengals defense against another high-scoring offense.

The Guru: The Bengals are coming off a very tough loss. They finally get the offense going and the defense couldn't stop the Chargers when they had to. What really hurts is that they did a pretty good job on LaDainian Tomlinsion and Antonio Gates, but then you can't let two backup guys (wide receiver Malcom Floyd and tight end Brandon Manumaleuna) hurt you like that.

Certainly on paper it looks like their defense should be playing better than it is. It very well could be another high-scoring game. The thing Cincinnati has going for it is New Orleans isn't very big on defense.

The Chief: I couldn't believe they lost when I saw the scores coming in. I figured here they go, their offense is back. And I think their offense is back, but the crowd noise is going to be a definite factor. I think the Bengals can outscore them. They won't score 41, but I think they can hit 30. So it's on the defense again. When you're scoring like that, all it takes is a couple of stops. All you have to do is be able to volley.

WHEN THE BENGALS HAVE THE BALL
* center>QB Carson Palmer vs. The Big Easy*

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Palmer

Certainly the numbers say so. The Saints have already allowed 17 touchdown passes and only intercepted four. And Palmer is due for a big game on the road. Although he threw for four touchdowns in Pittsburgh, he has thown just two in the other three games and has had three sub-200-yard days out of the four games.

Indeed, if the Saints are struggling in the secondary like the Chargers, then they are also small like the Falcons. The other tackle, Hollis Thomas, is about the size of center Eric Ghiaciuc at 305 pounds, and New Orleans is ranked only 22nd against the rush.

Anderson blanked the real Peppers when the Panthers defensive end was leading the league in sacks, while Whitworth has more than held his own against some of the NFL's top pass rushers. Smith is the latest in a line that has included Baltimore's Terrell Suggs and Atlanta's Patrick Kerney. Since Whitworth has been the starting left tackle protecting Palmer's blind side, Palmer has had only one game in which he has thrown an interception.

Now hear this. If you think the Bengals corners are struggling, the Saints corners have exactly 0.0 picks this season.

"Everybody liked Drew Brees. The question was who would gamble on him after major shoulder surgery," The Guru says. "He's probably got an average arm, but he's such a competitor and he's a real tough guy. And he's very smart and accurate."

"I'm thinking we're going to get (some) interceptions or seven sacks," Bresnahan said, and the Bengals ended up with just two sacks on the day and no picks.

The Bengals have been doing a solid job against the run overall, but they are 30th in the league giving up yards on first down. Still, they kept Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson relatively in check on 104 yards on more than 20 carries. But he did hurt the Bengals defense when it had its lighter pass defense on the field.

"Colston (6-4, 230) has great numbers but I'm not all that excited," The Chief says. "He seems to be purely a possession guy who doesn't have great speed. He's a big guy though, and he can be very effective in the red zone and the end zone throwing his body around."

"No question we have to do a better job," Simmons said. "It comes down to using our leverage and making sure we get there."

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